Source: The Hitavada      Date: 26 Jul 2018 11:54:15

THE violence indulged in by the agitators of the Maratha community asking for caste-based reservation is absolutely senseless, uncalled for, and purely political in nature. For, when the matter of reservation to the Maratha community is subjudice and the Maharashtra Government has sought quota for the Marathas, there is no need for any fresh agitation at all. Yet, when the agitation is revived time and again and violence is used as a tool to grab attention, we can surmise without hesitation that political vested interests are operating. Had it not been so, the agitators would not have held the Government of Maharashtra responsible for the death of an agitator who jumped into Godawari river and succumbed. 

It is very unfortunate that the Maratha community should ask for caste-based reservation for its members on the assumption of its own backwardness. It is sheer blasphemy to call the Marathas backward by any standard. The community who produced an iconic leader like Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the community that has been the ruling class in Maharashtra for three-hundred-plus years, the community whose members are running huge cooperative sugar mills, have financial stakes in huge corporates, the community whose members are all the time ministers in Maharashtra’s Council of Ministers no matter which party rules the roost cannot ask for reservation on the assumption of its own backwardness. The backward class commission, too, has ruled similarly not once but many times. The larger Indian society, also, adheres to a similar thinking. But when the Marathas ask for caste-based reservation on assumption of backwardness, one has to conclude that it is a very unfortunate development stemming from political vested interests.

In the past few months, the agitation had calmed down as part of the wait when the judiciary was considering the matter. However, as the next year’s Lok Sabha elections and also the Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha elections a little later are nearing, the political vested interests seem to have woken up to launch the agitation afresh. This is something that should never have happened. The leaders of the Maratha community whose members are in all political parties, should have desisted from this fresh launch of the agitation. For, when a demand is linked to political interests, its importance gets diminished at all levels. Then, that condition leaves a space for doubt about the genuineness of the demand.

Some of the reported statements of some leaders of the agitation are quite shocking, to say the least. One leader was reported to have said, in effect, that it was enough of peaceful agitation. This statement indicates a clear leaning on violence as a tool. The subsequent violence that took place -- in the form of burning and damaging of public property like buses and attack on a policeman leading to his death -- is, therefore, absolutely reprehensible. For, such violence gives an impression that the leaders of the agitation do not mind hooliganism to take precedence over sensible action. Violence, thus, is a direct reflection on the failure of the leadership to keep the agitation peaceful.

At a time when the larger Indian society is seeking a liberation from old ideas such as caste-based reservation, the demand from a few communities like Marathas, Patidars, and the Gujjars appears totally backward. Reports also have us believe that some other communities, too, intend to join the agitation. When the society should actually have a serious review of the policy of reservation, it is shocking that more and more communities are joining agitation for reservations. If this continues and if the Government also starts pandering to such demands for obvious political purpose, then Indian society will start its backward journey. It is time all of us came together to decide what we actually want -- moving forward or going backward.